RALEIGH, N.C. — Both the North Carolina House and Senate gave their approval to the 2022 Appropriations Bill Friday.

This bill is not a new budget. Instead it makes adjustments to the budget that state lawmakers passed last year. It includes a bigger pay raise for teachers than expected, a 4.2% bump instead of 2.5% over two years.


What You Need To Know

The state budget deal includes a bigger pay raise for teachers (4.2% instead of 2.5% over two-year period)

Wake County schoolteacher Liz Kaulfuss is grateful for the raise but wishes more could be done for veteran teachers like herself

Kaulfuss wants N.C. lawmakers to bring back longevity pay for veteran teachers amid COVID-19 challenges, like students falling behind in learning and staffing shortages


Liz Kaulfuss loves what she does.

“Teaching has always been my passion,” Kaulfuss said. “I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I wouldn’t have stuck with it for 29 years if I didn’t love it. For me, it’s really about the relationships with the kids. And how you can turn on their thinking, whether it’s a great book or whether it’s a computer program.”

Kaulfuss, a Wake County schoolteacher, is working at a coding camp called Code Zone to make extra money this summer. An increase in teachers’ salaries is welcome news.

“I think everybody we know right now is probably struggling to get by. And as a teacher, I am grateful for any raise, of course, that we get,” Kaulfuss said.

She says the last few years with the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging.

“A lot of kids got behind as a result, and we’re seeing that in some scores and things,” she said. “Right now, there are a lot of shortages, and we’re seeing a lot of teachers having to cover each other’s classes. Because there simply have been no substitutes.”

The possibility of a school shooting adds another layer of stress.

“It’s a very scary time to be a teacher when you hear about these mass school shootings,” Kaulfuss said. “And I believe that the school system has done a good job as far as giving us some practices to work on with the kids, but it’s also sad that we’re sometimes practicing for this active school shooter drill. One thing that I always did, as a classroom teacher, was always kept my classroom door locked and closed. Even when kids go out to the restroom, I just let them back in. That’s one of the safety precautions that I myself have used.”

The starting pay for a teacher in North Carolina is $37,000 a year, which is $4,000 less than the national average, according to the National Education Association.

There’s a long way to go on teacher pay, but teachers are getting bigger raises than other state employees amid rising gas prices and inflation.

“I do feel valued to a certain degree. It’s been a rough few years as a veteran teacher. I am appreciative, especially with everything that’s going on with the economy right now, to get anything,” Kaulfuss said. “I think for teachers, it’s also some of the little things that your administration does to make you feel supported. I had an assistant principal this year who, during teacher appreciation, canceled our lunch duties and went and did them herself.”

Kaulfuss says she would like North Carolina lawmakers to bring back longevity pay for veteran teachers, which are bonuses teachers receive every year after their 10th year. She says it’s a great way to retain teachers.

The budget is now in the hands of Gov. Roy Cooper.